Wednesday, May 19

A Happy Day

I promise to post more later, but Oliver's bloodwork and x-rays came back okay. The vet still wants to do more tests on his fecal, urine and blood samples, but for now, he's on new food (Duck and Green Pea flavored - very gourmet!), and he starts some medication tomorrow.
We are so grateful for our miracle. His calcium went from highly elevated to the top end of normal. We're still not out of the woods yet, but for now we are okay.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Our little family is so grateful.
On a side note, my husband accepted a new job today. It seems small compared to the health of one of our family members, but we are also excited about that.
To celebrate, we're walking down to our neighborhood pub for a beer, and then we're bringing home a High Point Pizza to eat in the company of Ollie and Porter. For those of you in the Memphis area, be sure to check HPP out sometime. It's the best in Memphis!

Tuesday, May 18

A Prayer for Oliver

Dear Friends, For the past few months, I have poured my heart into this blog. For the past few days, my heart has been hurting. My seven-year-old tabby cat, Oliver, hasn't been having his normal bathroom habits for the past few weeks, and after multiple trips to the vet, they decided to do blood work on him. Yesterday morning as I was pulling into the parking lot at work, I got the call. His blood work was fine except for one thing - his calcium was elevated. That doesn't sound too bad, right? In reality it means my worst fear - 98 percent of the time, it's cancer. Of course, there is that two percent chance that it's something else, but I am beside myself with fear and worry. This is my baby, not my cat. This cannot be his reality. The vet was kind - he said mistakes can be made, and he wanted to check his blood again. Oliver, my sister and I went to the vet yesterday afternoon, and we'll go back tomorrow morning for x-rays. I waited with a sick stomach all day for the call that never came, and for some reason, I was relieved. I think I prefer to hear all of the answers tomorrow at the vet. Please, dear friends, pray for my baby. He has been a blessing since the day he came into my life, and I am brokenhearted at the thought of losing him. Seven years ago in April, a stray cat appeared outside our house. He was hurt, so we went to Petsmart to get a carrier for him so we could take him to the vet. This cat, Victor, is now my mom's cat. While we were at Petsmart, we walked by the pets who were up for adoption, and there was a cat and a kitten sharing one of the cages. Usually, this would be a cute scene, but the cat was terrorizing the kitten. He wouldn't let him eat or drink, and he was growling at the tiny thing. We rushed to one of the store clerks, and asked that they relocate the kitten. I'll never forget what the guy said, "I'm sorry, ladies. We're overbooked, and there isn't another cage for this kitten. You'll have to take him home with you." Any other day, we would have said no, but for some reason, this little eight-week-old tabby stole our hearts. We went home with two carriers that night, and a tiny mewing kitten. On that night in April 2003, I became a pet parent for the first time in my life. From day one, he decided we were together. Oliver, tiny as he was, wanted to be close to me, usually on my chest nudging me with his head. He gave me ringworm on my neck from all of that nudging, but I didn't really care. Five months later, I lost my grandma to terminal cancer and I moved to Oxford to attend Ole Miss. There were many nights that I held Oliver and just cried. He was my roommate, my only friend in a new city. After that first month, he became the favorite pet of all of my friends. They all loved Oliver the "dog-cat." This cat has never been like most cats. He doesn't really have a cat bone in his body. He loves everyone. I still remember the first time Jonathan met Oliver. We'd been in Oxford about a month, and he came over to install a peephole in my front door (for some reason, this sounds really scandalous - it wasn't). Oliver ran by the door, and Jonathan said, "Do you have a cat?" A few months later after our first date, Jonathan was asleep, and Oliver was on his chest, checking him out. I was so worried that Oliver would wake him up, but Ollie just looked at him and then at me as if to say, "I think we should keep him." It took some time for Jonathan and Oliver to become best friends, but they are today. Oliver will snuggle up on Jonathan's chest, or he'll lay beside him with his paw on his arm. Those are his signature moves. He wants to be close to us all of the time. He will lay beside us and purr for hours. Last night as I cried myself to sleep, Oliver crawled up from his spot at my feet and laid on my pillow. He just purred and purred as if to say, "It's going to be alright." Tonight we're going to do all of Oliver's favorite things: play with his pink ball and mouse toy, put some catnip on his bed and snuggle on the couch. This week has been a cruel reminder that we don't know what tomorrow will bring. We must enjoy every moment - every single beautiful moment - and we must be grateful every day for the health of our family and friends. Tonight I pray that tomorrow will bring good news, but of course, I know we have to be ready for the worst. Please be sure to hug your family and your pets tonight, and please pray for us. We are grateful for every one of you. Love, Crystel

Sunday, May 9

A Mother's Day Memory

Roses from my grandma's garden, summer 2008.
My aunt, Jonathan's grandmother, and my Nonna at our wedding, December 2007
My mom standing in Palos Verdes, Summer 2005. My great-grandmother's house is in the bottom right corner.
Our pretty niece yesterday in the backseat of my car...she wanted to ride with Uncle Jon-Jon from his sister's graduation to the local Mexican restaurant.
On Mother's Day 1999, my grandma was visiting us from Southern California. I don't remember many of the details of that trip, but I do remember being in church on Mother's Day. During the service, our preacher wanted to recognize all of the mothers in the congregation. He said he wished that he could give all of the mothers a prize (in this case, a red rose), but unfortunately he only had roses for the youngest mother, oldest mother, and the mother who had traveled the farthest to be with her family on this special day. People began to raise their hands to try to claim the first two prizes, and they were quickly awarded. "Now," said our preacher, "How far did your mother travel to be here today?" Mothers and daughters began to shout out "Nashville!" "Memphis!" and other cities in the South. Then, my mother stood up and said, "Los Angeles!" A hush went over the crowd, and then the preacher said, "I think we have our winner." My grandma went to the pulpit to claim her rose. I'll never forget that day and how it felt to be three generations of women, sitting together on Mother's Day. My mother and grandmother have always been my biggest source of inspiration, and the world just felt right when we were all together. I have missed that feeling so much over the past seven years. I think that's why our family traditions like gardening have become so important to me. When I'm working in my rose beds, my hands look more like my grandma's hands. I am connected to her, my great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother who all worked tirelessly on their roses long before I was ever born. But still I feel a strong connection to them, and I look forward to sharing the connection with my own daughter someday. This Mother's Day weekend, I was fortunate enough to see Jonathan's family as well as my own. His sister graduated from college, and we all gathered to celebrate her exciting accomplishment. His grandparents, parents, brother and niece were all there. As we stood in the sun, I was so glad to be a part of their lives. Then we went to Oxford to see my mother and sister. My sister is also celebrating an important milestone this month. She's starting graduate school. We tend to take the people who are the most important to us for granted, and yesterday I was reminded once again how important my family is to me. I look forward to spending time with everyone this summer. It's going to be a good one.

Thursday, May 6

Summer Thoughts....

Summer is...

A view of the ocean, bay, etc. (Newport Beach, CA.)

A big margarita, wavy hair and a super comfy sundress.

Porter in his pool.

Being lazy, even if it's just for a moment. (Newport Beach - Summer 2009)
This time of year, I crave a real summer, and I wish I was a teacher.
Seriously, teachers have the best vacation schedules. Their schedule alone almost makes me want to go back to school for whatever it takes to teach high school journalism, history and English.
But in the back of my mind, I know summer vacation wouldn't be so fun if I was spending it alone.
I do miss lazy days of reading every book I could get my hands on, sleeping late, long trips to California and that ultimate thrill of knowing there wasn't going to be any school in the forecast for THREE months.
High School and college kids take note: this three month break from work does not last forever.
Summer, in my opinion, is the least fun part of being a working person. Unless there is a trip planned, it's just business as usual. Oh yeah, there is one little holiday - thank you, founding fathers. :)
To make up for the fact we do have to work, we get especially excited about weekends, plan trips to the farmers market, plant lots of pretty flowers and wear breezy clothes.
There will be some sandal purchases and perhaps some Popsicle or ice cream making.
We will continue to open our windows as long as humanly possible...
Speaking of these things, it's getting hot here in Memphis. When the calendar switched to May, the temperature shot up. It was 90 yesterday, and it's going to be 90 and 87 the next two days.
It is supposed to be 73 on Saturday, which will be nice.
Still, I think the days of opening the windows at 5 p.m. may be numbered. Our new windows have definitely helped us this year though. We haven't turned on the AC once so far.
What a wonderful, green investment that feels like summer. It's almost as good as a trip to the beach....almost.
I guess that's a good thing. Since the windows were so expensive, there won't be a summer beach trip for us this year. To make up for that, we're going to be super creative and try to come up with lots of fun, summertime things to do here at home.
I'll share them on the blog with the hope of spreading some summer cheer.
What are you doing right now to celebrate summer? Do you have any fun summer plans? I hope so! :)

Tuesday, May 4

An Education and Other Movies

While the world outside was getting incredibly soggy this past weekend, Jonathan and I stayed home and had a movie marathon. Six movies were rented, which is a rarity in our world of continuous weekend projects. Apparently we need the occasional flood to sit back and relax... On the watch list was Crazy Heart, Avatar, Pirate Radio, Up in the Air, The Blindside and An Education. (Embarrassingly enough, when I writing out this list, I couldn't remember The Blindside - the movie that is based on the life of Michael Oher, who was a star football player at Ole Miss while I was there...he is also from Memphis...oops!) All of the movies were good and totally worth seeing at least once. All of them, with the exception of Pirate Radio, were nominated for at least one Oscar this year. They lived up to their Oscar hype. Rent them the next time a flood is headed your way. :) An Education wins my personal award for great fashion (isn't movie watching all about the fashion?). Set in 1960s London, the movie introduces us to 16-year-old Jenny, a brilliant student whose parents and English teacher want to see her attend Oxford University. I won't go into the plot details, but I did fall madly in love with Jenny's shift dresses, mod accessories and school girl uniforms. I definitely have a soft spot for British school uniforms. From age four to eight, I wore one to school every single day. Here in Memphis, school uniforms are the norm, but they usually involve khakis and polo shirts. In England we wore shirts, pinafores, ties and knee socks in the winter, and plaid dresses (with bobby socks!) in the summer. There were matching satchels, hats, swimsuits, rain boots, rain coats and gym clothes. Needless to say, it was easy to dress for school. If you want to see the 2010 version of this uniform, you can visit my old school's web site. :) If you haven't seen the movie, here are a few glimpses of Carey Mulligan's great movie style....
Are you inspired to dress this way yet? I was...

Roses: Week Two (After the Flood)

Our brand-new Midas Touch Rose
I rescued this rose bush from the shadiest part of our yard last year. Our first year in the house, it only bloomed once and then looked really sickly the rest of the summer. I was so scared that I would kill it (I have no idea how long it had been there), but look at it now!
The floribunda One of two New Dawn Climbing Rose Bushes (you can see the other one in the background) that came with our house...These were out of control the first year, and I ruined several gardening outfits trying to cut them back. Jonathan wasn't sure if they were worth all the trouble... Now we think they are.
Aren't they amazing? There are hundreds of blooms on them already...
A pansy in my planter. There haven't been pansies here in at least a year...
My little Angel Face Rose.
Okay, so maybe I won't do rose updates every week, but after the floods we had over the weekend, I thought it was necessary. Clearly I wasn't watering enough (ahem, at all) because after the 12 inches of rain we received on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, everything is in full bloom.
The tornado sirens went off at least ten times from Saturday at 4 a.m. until Sunday at 2:30 a.m., but we didn't see anything more than a lot of rain and some eerie winds (a little Twister-like). It was quite exhausting. Apparently it was the worst weather this state has seen in at least ten years. Poor Millington (a little north of us) and Nashville (east) didn't fair as well. They are recovering from some devastating flooding. They are in our prayers.